Sydney Theatre Company has made the switch to CORE technology by DPA amplifier technology. As one of Australia’s major performing arts theatres, the STC have seamlessly incorporated the DPA d:screet mini, d:fine headset and d:vote instrument mic into their performances, achieving clean and crisp sound with ultimate subtlety.
As previous owners of a large repertoire of DPA microphones, they’ve added another 75 CORE 4061 miniature omnidirectional microphones to their stock for use on a number of productions including Tennessee Williams’ classic Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.
Ben Lightowlers, STC’s Head of Sound and Audio Visual, says: “Once the new CORE technology arrived, I was keen to put it through the rigours of a regular season at STC. The goal for us in Theatre is to not distract the audience with an obviously mic’d tonality but rather aim for a more naturalistic augmentation of the voice. The new CORE mics boast a more open frequency response, which is appealing when balancing vocal performances of varying dynamics in circumstances where some cast members are potentially quieter than others on stage.”
STC’s new d:screets were project managed and supplied by DPA dealer Soundcorp along with Amber Technology, DPAs sole distributor in Australia. With their new d:screets are the d:dicate 4017 Shotgun microphones comes the d:fine headset microphones, d:vote instrument microphones, d:facto vocal microphones and more legacy d:screet 4061 miniature microphones.
“In the 13 years I have been with STC, I estimate that we’ve purchased an average of fifty d:screet 4061s per year to service the main stage shows, of which there are 12-15 per year,” he says. “They have a good resilience to sweat, skin contact, quick wig or costume changes and other extreme conditions we put them through. In the past this has included actors hurling themselves down a slip’n’slide across the stage through a pool of water while fully nude, to a chorus of cast conducting an intimate conversation in typhoon conditions, all the while remaining intelligible to our audiences. Sometimes an actor might not leave the stage for the whole play or it might be that a production spans over six hours.”
Lighthowlers says that changing to the CORE mic range gives STC more versatility and dynamic range. He says he and his team are very happy with the results they are delivering and impressed with how easily they’ve slotted in with their radio transmitters. “I especially appreciate getting the microphones terminated to Lemo connectors at the factory,” he says.
The new CORE microphones have already made their maiden appearance on the stage of long-running production The Wharf Revue.
“The new CORE microphones rose to the occasion and established that they could stand up to the demands of a typical STC touring production,” Lightowlers says. “They are now being used for rehearsals for Cat On A Hot Tin Roof in which one actor has to take a shower on stage. Instead of being able to put a mic on the actor backstage after the shower, he needs to stay on stage until the interval, so we’ll need to introduce a capsule cover. It will certainly be a fun test for the team, but nothing we haven’t overcome before.”
Even though the d:screet CORE 4061s are small enough to hide in an actors hairline without spectators seeing them, Lighthowlers is still keen to try the new DPA 6000 series subminiature microphones for their even smaller capsule.
“The smaller, the better,” he says. “All CORE by DPA products are IP58 certified but the design of the 6000 series capsule permits even less water to enter, which is something directors should be aware of when they want their actors to perform underwater. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in a production meeting and had the sound designer, director or costume designer ask me for advice on how to deal with some cracked stage direction written into the script, that also has major dialogue over the top. Time and time again in those situations it is DPA that has saved the day.”
Every year the Sydney Theatre Company puts on a season of different products at its venues; Roslyn Packer Theatre, the Drama Theatre and The Wharf Theatres and on production tours around the country. During its busiest times, the theatre company has two rehearsing shows, another two in development and three to four shows performing at any given time. With the two Wharf Theatre having a combined capacity of 550, Roslyn Packer holding just under 900 and the Drama Theatre 500, the STC welcomes over 300,000 audience members yearly.
“Whilst our venues include a standard sound infrastructure, due to a large number of shows performing and rehearsing concurrently, we need to carry a sizable inventory of floating stock,” Lightowlers explains. “I’ve found that it is far more cost effective to own all our equipment rather than to hire on a show-by-show basis.”
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